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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MOOR, n., v.1 Also moar; mur (Jak.); moori(e), muri, mura. [mur(i, a)]

I. n. A dense fall of fine powdery snow liable to pile up into drifts (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1963). Hence moorie-blinnd, a blinding snowstorm.Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 127:
A moor had fa'n a' the heel day.
Sh. 1909:
It's on a moory. There is a fall of heavy, fine snow.
Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March) 7:
I' da voar whin da snaa is kumin' doon in a blind moorie!
Sh. 1961 New Shetlander No. 59. 6:
An you heard da soond o da muckle wind As he shook da hoose in a moorie-blinnd.

II. v. intr. 1. Of snow: to fall densely, to pile up into drifts (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1963); with up; to choke with drifting snow, to snow up. Hence moorin, moarin, murin, ppl.adj., dense and drifting (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 147; I.Sc. 1963); vbl.n., a dense snowfall (Jak.; I.Sc. 1963).Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 128:
Aroond the hoose the mooran' snaw.
Sh. 1894 Williamson MSS. (25 Jan.):
Sic a night o moorin as he is outside.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
It's beginnan tae moor; it's been mooran a' the day. The dikes 'll be a' moored ap.
Sh. 1930 Shetland Almanac 186:
Du'll hear me cryin' troo da gale, An' troo da moorin' snaw.

2. To have the nasal tubes choked with phlegm (Ork. 1963).Ork. 1929 Marw.:
“Mooran wi' the cauld” — smothering with a cold in the head.

III. Combs.: 1. mell-moorin, meal-, a blizzard, a dense storm of fine drifting snow (Sh. 1881 Williamson MSS., 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 20). [O.N. mjǫll, powdery snow]; 2. moorawav, a blinding snowstorm, a blizzard (Sh. 1841 Jam.), prob. a mistake for 3.; 3. moorkavie, mu(i)r(i)-, mur(r)a-, moora-, moorie-, morra-, -ka(a)vi(e), -kaavy, -kauvie, -kav(a), -kafa, -kafe, -ca(a)v(ie), -cavey, -kovi, a blinding snowstorm (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1963). Also used attrib. and v. = to snow densely. See Kaav(ie), v., n.3. Sh. 1894 Williamson MSS. (25 Jan.):
If he's a muirkovi, we might skri by wi what's in.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Dezember) 9:
Ye canna stime far in a moor-kaavy.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 143:
An dats whin ye're strugglin alang kerryin your sea-chest on your back in a gale o wind an a moor cavey, an da Grind yunder ta climb.
Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March) 7:
Wi da snaa moorie-kaavie'n it ye widna a seen a skorie apo' da stem-heid.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 117:
Nae waanderin da hills wi' a moorcavie proogin inta every fan fur karcages.

[The history of the word suggests that it is a back-formation from moorkavie (see III. 3.), Faer. murrukavi, id., the first element being from Faer. murra, crowd, dense mass. Cf. Icel. mor, a swarm, Norw. dial. mure, coal dust, myrja, a swarm. v., 2. is phs. conflated in meaning with Smoor.]

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"Moor n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Oct 2023 <>



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